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For Such A Time As This (Thoughts on this Time Apart)

Greetings! As we get to the end of the first full-week of being “house-bound,” I hope that you are all coping as well as you can be given the circumstances. I think we are all better adapters than we give ourselves credit for. Most of us have a stack of books which are half-finished, or others for which the spines have never been cracked; movies yet to be watched, or myriad others we want to watch again; conversations we’ve put off; or, time to sit in silence contemplating the Divine.

The politics of this pandemic have, at times, felt overwhelming. The daily press briefings with their pontificating and self-congratulating make me nauseous. The true experts, though, are fabulous, using all of their skills to navigate the complexities of this extraordinary time in our public life. They deserve our humble thanks. It is for such a time as this that they’ve prepared their whole lives and we owe them our gratitude.

I’m frustrated that we are unable to meet “in person” as a congregation. I miss you, greatly. You are my friends and companions on “The Way.” I am in the process of devising opportunities to bring us together “virtually.” Still, there are no substitutes for a handshake, a full-bodied hug, a big smile, or a quick embrace. We are, at our core, “social beings.” We’re not designed to be alone. It’s been that way from the beginning in the Garden. We “crave” the other, and we are fulfilled by their presence in our lives.

So, reach out across the digital divide and stay in touch. I need you, and hopefully you need me. I will hold you all in my prayers, and I trust you will do the same for me. Pray for the world as a whole, as well — we are all in this together. These are extraordinary times — literally times of crisis. With God’s guidance, and the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit, we will manage it together! Blessings on you all!

From Pastor Kent’s Desk

For me, Lent serves as a journey, a metaphorical one filled with twists and turns which ends at the foot of a cross in Jerusalem. I’ve faithfully made the journey for over 60 years in a variety of settings: Los Angeles, Glendora, Seoul, Pasadena, Riverside, Richmond, Dearborn, Punxsutawney, and Lancaster. Each of the settings was unique and incorporated the particular “vibe” of the community in which I was living and working. Wherever it was, the journey had the same characteristics and the same goal: spiritual awakening and renewal. The journey’s never been lonely, as I’ve always traveled with an amazing group of pilgrims, each of whom brought along something unique for the trip: ideas, spiritual gifts, positive attitudes, life experiences, intuition, maturity, wisdom, grace, joy, dignity, and faith. Each person relying on the others for sustenance and nurture to see them through to the end! That’s the true nature of community – none of us, not one of us, can hope to reach Jerusalem on our own. This year is no exception as the congregation of Bethany Church embarks on its own journey to Jerusalem. Our sojourn is enhanced by the 2020 Lenten Devotional, “Becoming a Beloved Community.” I hope each of you has obtained a copy and are faithfully reading the daily devotions which feature the voices of 19 ordained ministers, chaplains, lay pastors and ruling elders from the Presbytery of the Pacific. Their goal is to refresh our hearts and minds as we walk along the road. So, let’s hold each other in prayer as we walk and talk. Let’s be sensitive to the joys and concerns of our fellow travelers. I need you as much as you need me – that’s what makes us a community. The Risen Christ walks with us, encouraging and sustaining us, opening our eyes and ears to the needs of those around us. And, when we arrive, let’s plan to gather in the garden on Easter Morning to celebrate the extraordinary event we call The Resurrection.
Grace & Peace

Fasting and Feasting – William Arthur Ward

From the Middle Ages to this day, Christians have considered the Season of Lent as a time to Fast from certain things and to Feast on others. This Lent, we could attempt to: *Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
*Fast from judging others; feast on Christ indwelling them.
*Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
*Fast from constant anger; feast on patience.
*Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
*Fast from worry; feast on providential order.
*Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
*Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
*Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.
*Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal Truth.
*Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.
*Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.